DECEMBER 25, 2020
Finally! It is Christmas Day!
This is the day that children and adults have been looking forward to for a long time. The anticipation has been building because we have been surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells that heightened our sense of expectancy. With every sense tuned in, we have been told that something big was about to happen. Today is the day!
Even the church has participated in creating a sense of excitement. In fact, the church has dedicated four weeks to this season called Advent. This season has included the tunes of familiar carols, lighting of candles, readings from the birth story of Jesus, and opportunities to worship. Today is the crescendo!
If you have small children in your home, I suspect your celebration of Christmas Day began much earlier this morning. Even as I type these words, memories of Christmas mornings flood my mind.
I could hardly get to sleep on Christmas Eve because I knew that Santa would be visiting my house in a few short hours. After finally surrendering to sleep, my eyes would fly open and I would rush to wake my mom and dad and then dash to the den to see what Santa had left for me.
On one occasion, just when I thought I had surveyed all of the gifts that had been delivered, and the initial excitement had begun to subside, my mom came into the room with another gift. It seems that Santa had somehow left a gift in a closet and had forgotten to place it among the other items. My young mind gave little thought as to why Santa had made such a mistake. The gift was unexpected and came as an added surprise.
Far beyond the excitement that comes from ripping open festively wrapped packages and finding the toys or items that we have hoped for, or emptying an overstuffed stocking that was hung by the chimney with care, or even the joy received through the giving of gifts, there is one more gift.
It will not be wrapped in festive paper adorned with a matching bow. It was not selected from the Sears Christmas Wish Book. Santa did not leave it. It’s not to be found hiding behind the tree, nor is it in the bottom of the stocking that was hung with care. It is, however, quite personal, and exactly what everyone needs.
Hopefully, everything associated with Christmas has pointed us in the direction of the more important gift that is given on this day. Occasionally, a lone voice or a peculiar reminder will mention that what we really celebrate today is a gift from God.
As an act of tremendous love, God put on human flesh and came to dwell among us in the form of a baby. That is Christmas! It is a good thing He did, because humanity was in such a state that we could not help ourselves. Recognizing a need for God and the forgiveness that God could offer, the faithful offered sacrifices, attempted to follow incredibly difficult laws, and discovered that it was not possible to earn God’s love.
Today we celebrate because God did something for us that we could never do for ourselves. He sent us a Savior. Wrapped not in foil paper and tissue but a few odd pieces of cloth. The Son of God was born to parents who did not have a stable home life; they had to borrow a stable for his appearing. In spite of these austere conditions, the angels sang, the stars shined brightly in the night sky, and people came from miles around to see this great thing that God had done. This is Christmas.
On this day, I hope that you will receive this gift from God. And on this Christmas Day, just maybe you need to be the very one who reminds others the reason that we celebrate.